Talent?

stlukesguild

Well-known member
Messages
2,434
I've come across a couple of posts speaking of "inheriting" talent. Is "talent" something that can be inherited? Is "talent" something one is born with? What are your thoughts on "talent"?
 
Yes, I do think you can inherit a certain amount of talent (or maybe I should say a propensity for creativity) but it also has to be developed as you grow. I've always been able to draw reasonably well and Mom was an artist and Daddy a wood carver (he would have said "whittler") Myself and both of my brothers were always creative.
 
"Talent is so loaded a word, so full to the brim with meanings, that an artist might be wise to forget about it altogether and just keep on working.”—Eric Maisel, creativity coach

“The misperception that creativity is a natural talent and cannot be taught actually very convenient because it relieves everybody of the need to do anything about fostering creativity. If it is only available as a natural talent then there is no point in seeking to do anything about creativity.”—Edward de Bono, creativity writer
 
De Bono is attacking a straw man. I expect he has a vested interest in doing so, if he sells his writing about creativity. I've never heard anybody else posit the idea that creativity is available only as natural talent.

Natural talent exists. The notion that there's no such thing as natural talent is most often heard from people who don't have it. Whether it can be inherited in the literal sense... that depends on its constituents. Certainly eye-hand coordination can be inherited. Touch sensitivity too, most likely (in the context of getting tactile feedback from one's tools, be they brushes, pencils or micromotor rotary handpieces). This doesn't mean such things can't be taught, and no one starts out being a master. But if they do need to be taught, and the teaching takes a long time. then that person isn't naturally talented.

Deep seeing can be taught, but I know from experience that there are some people who just never get it.
 
De Bono is attacking a straw man. I expect he has a vested interest in doing so, if he sells his writing about creativity. I've never heard anybody else posit the idea that creativity is available only as natural talent.
....
Perhaps you are right regarding De Bono, but how many times have you heard; "You're so creative/talented"?
 
I've been told I'm talented many times, but never creative-- that would be redundant, no?
 
Small motor coordination is probably inherited as well (remember, I'm talking about the physical components of natural talent, not about genius, which appears to be beyond physical explanations).

Nobody ever questions the notion that the physical components of athletic talent can be inherited. Let's take Larry Bird as an example, for those who remember him and the glory years of the great Celtics-Lakers rivalry. His height was obviously inherited. So was his eye-hand coordination, though he worked relentlessly to develop his shooting to near perfection. Compared to many NBA players, he wasn't all that talented. He wasn't a fast runner. Or a great jumper. But he had freakish peripheral vision. He often seemed to have eyes in the back of his head. Surely this was inherited. But what about his mental toughness? He was one of the greatest clutch players in history. The guy just never choked, no matter how much pressure he was under. Was that inherited?

So with art, I think it's all about things that can't be quantified. It's what goes on inside your head that counts.

But without the physical abilities required to translate what's in your head into an outstanding work outside it, you will get nowhere. Those physical abilities are the components of natural talent, and some people simply have more of it than others.

Can intelligence be inherited?
 
Studies on the human brain suggest that the old notion of intelligence was grossly limited. There are multiple realms of intelligence that impact a wealth of disciplines: music, math, writing, verbal communication, art, sports, etc... One isn't born with an ability or "talent" for art but rather each of us inherits a brain wired in such a way that the skills and knowledge needed to master certain disciplines come far easier to some of us than others. As an art teacher, I have seen those students for whom the various art skills and concepts are mastered quickly. At times, such students will pick up and master skills and concepts I haven't even begun to teach. Such talents, however, are useless without the drive and self-discipline such as those that Musket mentioned with Larry Bird. Nearly every college-level art teacher I have spoken with admits they would rather have a student of limited abilities or talents who is driven and self-motivated than the incredibly talented, yet lazy student for whom everything has come easy. The former will continue to improve because they don't take things for granted. The latter will frequently reach a certain level and not move beyond.

"Genius" on the other hand... is a different beast altogether. The individual born with the right talents and self-motivation as well as genius is literally a freak of nature... untouchable: Mozart, Schubert, Bach, Michelangelo, Rubens, Shakespeare, Dante, Duke Ellington, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, etc...
 
I don't see that what you're describing is any different from natural talent. If your brain happens to be wired that way, well, that's the same thing. You're naturally talented. It's got nothing to do with anything you can acquire by other means, nothing you can take any credit for. You're born with it. You can take credit for what you do with it (the hard work and discipline), but that's all.
 
What percentage of your finest artistic achievements would you attribute to hard work, effort, self-discipline, and practice as opposed to innate or inborn talent?
 
De Bono is attacking a straw man. I expect he has a vested interest in doing so, if he sells his writing about creativity. I've never heard anybody else posit the idea that creativity is available only as natural talent.

The whole creativity thing is largely horse manure. Anyone can dream up twenty ideas for a new novel or painting in an afternoon. The really difficult thing about being creative is actually doing it. And for someone trying to make it commercially, very often a serious problem is to switch off all the creative noise in their heads - they have too many ideas, all clamoring for attention, and they end up struggling to get anything done. Just ask Leonardo.

This overlaps with what StLukes also said, and I have seen it myself: great talent can often be a serious drawback. A non-visual art example that falls into my head: how talented a writer was Barbara Cartland? Yet she ended up having more creative success than many a young English lit graduate who has a head full of sophisticated language and ideas, and who is either too lazy to do the actual work, or completely paralyzed by his own sense that he is not merely writing stories, but on a Sacred Mission to change the world.

Now of course, perhaps a capacity for work is in itself a talent - I tend to be terribly lazy and lacking in focus. :)

Natural talent exists. The notion that there's no such thing as natural talent is most often heard from people who don't have it.

Yup, though I often also see it from people who have oodles of talent, and either want to make others feel better about themselves, or don't want to admit that they're lucky as hell. :)

Deep seeing can be taught, but I know from experience that there are some people who just never get it.

I know it from personal experience of my own inabilities. There are indeed some things I never got, not even in decades of quite dedicated study and practice. As I have often bemoaned, I just can't get proportions right, no mater what I do. Same thing goes for complex, semi-repetitive detail such as foliage or spots on a leopard or that sort of thing: I get lost in it, and very soon can't work out anymore which spot or leaf it is I am working on. And thus, accurately copying anything is quite simply beyond me.

But all that said, I have also come to see that while talent is very much real, it is often overrated, particularly in the arts, where nowadays there is a great deal of variety and lots of niches for all kinds of stuff. You don't have to be Michelangelo in order to produce work that it appealing and personally deeply satisfying.

If you hammer at it long enough, you find your niche, and you come to see that art isn't a competition. Or at least, it seems to me that if we see it that way, we are doing ourselves a disfavor. The fact that I am never going to be an Olympic medalist doesn't prevent me from exercising for the joy and health of it. The fact that Carnegie Hall is far beyond me doesn't prevent me from whistling tunes. The fact that I'll never be a famous ornithologist doesn't prevent me from enthusiastically turning the pages of my field guide whenever I see a new feathered friend in the bush. Why should it be any different with art?
 
Studies on the human brain suggest that the old notion of intelligence was grossly limited. There are multiple realms of intelligence that impact a wealth of disciplines: music, math, writing, verbal communication, art, sports, etc... One isn't born with an ability or "talent" for art but rather each of us inherits a brain wired in such a way that the skills and knowledge needed to master certain disciplines come far .......................................................................................................

"Genius" on the other hand... is a different beast altogether. The individual born with the right talents and self-motivation as well as genius is literally a freak of nature... untouchable: Mozart, Schubert, Bach, Michelangelo, Rubens, Shakespeare, Dante, Duke Ellington, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, etc...
OK, which is it? :giggle:
 
OK, which is it?

No one is born with an innate ability to use oil paint, play chess, write poetry in French, etc... All of these things demand that a body of skills and knowledge be learned and mastered. We are, however, born with brains that are wired in such a manner that we may grasp certain skills and knowledge faster or slower than others. Even if an individual is born with the ability to more rapidly master the skills and knowledge needed for art (or any discipline) an entire range of other elements come into play in determining what we might achieve: supportive friends and family, education, access to the needed skills and knowledge, access to the needed materials, self-motivation, patronage, etc... Michelangelo would likely have still been an artist of some real merit had he not had the support and education gained through his apprenticeship with Ghirlandaio, his exposure to the art of Donatello, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Verrocchio, etc... the works of the ancient Romans, his experiences in Florence and at the Medici Academy, the financial support of the Medici and the Pope, and his direct exposure to the ideas and artistic achievements of the Italian Renaissance. Had he been born in Russia or Hungary his achievements would likely have been quite different in spite of his "talents" and even his genius.
 
Didn't I say a propensity for creativity? Isn't that about the same thing?
 
"Talent" alone (however you define this) is not enough. Achievement within any given field demands hard work, study, and a certain degree of luck. I suspect a lot of artists dislike comments such as "You're so talented" because these ignore the very real effort put forth. I also suspect that some dislike the fact that achievements in art, or music, or literature, or sports, etc... are attributed to "talent" while those in math or science are credited to intelligence.
 
And didn't I also say " it also has to be developed as you grow. "? Or are you just wanting to start an argument? :giggle: ;)
 
Back
Top